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December 11, 2011

Achieving spiritual fitness

The Canadian Charger

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After reading The Qur'an 365 Selections for Daily Reading, by Mohamed Elmasry, Ph.D., one cannot ignore the call to prepare for Judgement Day because on this day God rewards for good deeds and punishes for bad deeds (22:1-2).

"On Judgement Day everyone will be accountable for all their deeds, both good and bad. They will wish to distance themselves from their bad deeds, as God Himself has warned you. But God is also compassionate toward his servants." 3:29-30.

“Whoever does a good deed will be rewarded ten-fold, but one who does a bad deed will only be punished for that and no more likewise and not treated unjustly.” 6:160

In the preface, Dr. Elmasry explains what motivated him to write this book:

“The need for relevant and accessible daily readings directed toward achieving spiritual fitness™ motivated me to write this book. I began by selecting 365 passages from the Qur’an[1], using similar parameters of length and topical value so that each daily excerpt takes only about 15 minutes to both read and contemplate. These daily readings also stand alone in terms of the topics or issues they address.  I have no wish to preface these passages with exhaustive commentary. Rather, I prefer to stand back and allow them to work their miracles in helping the reader to achieve spiritual fitness: they have been potent in the past and I believe they are so again.”

The worship of one God is also a central theme of the passages in this book, which includes many other pillars of wisdom designed to guide people in their daily lives.

“And remember above all

not to taken another god with God,

for if you do, you will be rejected

and thrown into Hellfire,

with only yourself to blame.” 17:37-37

In the Qur'an God says: “Remember me and I will remember you,” while at the same time emphasizing the need to persevere and pray and beg God's forgiveness.

“If My servants ask you about Me, I am always near

answering the call of those who pray to Me.

Then let them follow Me and believe,

so they may be guided.”

Humility and temperance are also themes which these passages from the Qur’an emphasize.

Eat and drink what is proper

but do not over-consume,

for God is not please with those who eat to excess.” 7:31-33

Call on your Lord in a quiet and humble voice,

for God dislikes aggressive people.”  7:55-56

These entreaties, of course, stand in stark contrast to many of the excesses that are an integral part of western consumer society, and the character traits often associated with successful people and being successful.

“Arrogance is hateful in your Lord's sight.

This is part of your Lord's Wisdom,” the Qur’an states. 17:37-39.

For those who pray to God for better circumstances in their lives, the Qur’an says:

“Truly, God does not change the condition

of a given people

for better or for worse,

unless they act to change themselves from within.

But if God wills that a given people be harmed,

no one can stop Him

and they will find no protector,

except by appealing to Him.” 13:11

As for the much-ballyhooed “clash of civilizations”, the Qur’an says:

Call to the way of your Lord

using wisdom and kind advice

and enter into positive dialogue

{with those of other religions}.

For your Lord knows best who has gone astray

and who is rightly guided in His path.” 16:125-128

Dr. Elmasry goes on to explain why he chose these particular passages for this book.

“In choosing the topic for each day, I followed traditional Islamic guidelines for attaining True Success, True Happiness and True Peace of Mind.

The first step is about coming to know God – through divine creations, one’s own being, the purpose of our life on earth, our life after physical death, and our final destination to be with God.

The second step is coming to love God — again through the wonder of divine creations, one’s own being, in the sacred gift of life, and in meeting God through our daily activities and awareness.

Finally, the third step is to learn to serve God — in preserving and respecting all of creation, in caring for others and oneself, in giving God our daily praise and prayer.

Ideally, however, the steps of knowing, loving and serving should be pursued in parallel, so that even as imperfect human beings, we can always be in the blessed state of knowing a little, loving a little, and serving a little. From there, we can increase our spiritual fitness toward knowing more, loving more and serving more.”

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